As the Seattle Arena plan nears its conclusion, a lot of frustrated pro-arena supporters have pointed to the myriad of other stadiums popping up around the country and wondering how they got it done so "easily," while ours has wallowed in perpetuity. They point at the "Seattle Process," a term normally reserved for the seemingly never-ending series of studies and petitions needed to make sure a process is inoffensive to the masses. In this case, however, it means pushing back votes, delaying meetings, and just generally taking forever to push this thing forward.
The fact is that these people are just too close to the process. Most of the process has been standard politics (although avoiding an issue so you don't have to vote on it is bad politics), and the truth is that all of these arenas and stadiums around the country have used a similar timeline to get to where they are. Just for some perspective, let's take a look.
City: Seattle, WA
Teams: Seattle SuperSonics (NBA), Seattle TBD (NHL)
Announced: February 6, 2012
Broke ground: TBD
Scheduled to open: TBD
Financing: 60% private, 40% public to be repaid by arena revenue
City: San Francisco, CA
Teams: Golden State Warriors (NBA)
Announced: May 22, 2012
Broke ground: TBD (2017 planned)
Scheduled to open: 2019 (originally 2017)
Financing: 100% private
City: Atlanta, GA
Teams: Atlanta Falcons (NFL), Atlanta United FC (MLS)
Announced: February 2011
Broke ground: May 19, 2014
Scheduled to open: June 1, 2017 (originally March 2017)
Financing: 50% private, 50% public
U.S. Bank Stadium
City: Minneapolis, MN
Teams: Minnesota Vikings (NFL)
Announced: April 19, 2007
Broke ground: December 3, 2013
Scheduled to open: July 2016
Financing: roughly 55% private, 45% public
As you can see, the standard amount of time between announcements and ground breaking is 3-5 years, and delays are quite common. We are currently going into year five and are nearing a conclusion. Of course, ground breaking would still require an NBA team to be acquired, but that's out of the city's hands. Sonics Rising will have a timeline for the rest of the process in the coming days.
I realize that Sacramento and Milwaukee got their arenas done in much quicker time, but they also had a green and gold gun to their heads and had been working with unofficial plans for years. The Kings had a framework of an arena already from an earlier pitch by the Maloofs, and the Bucks had the benefit of having a large patch of land available right across the street from their current arena. Those are extenuating circumstances, they just happen to be ones that we were directly involved in. That's more an indictment of the Seattle government back in 2007 that let the Sonics leave in the first place.
It's been a tiring process, but now is the time to really ramp things up because we're nearing the finish line. It's time to dig deep into your reserve strength and push this thing to the end. Our opponents are not giving up, which shows there is still a fight to be had. Let's win it.